This past June, the students and families at Broadlands donated books, school and art supplies for Syrian refugees. Earlier this month, Mme Yammout visited a refugee settlement in Lebanon and delivered those supplies. She shares her experience with you below.
I spent a couple of days at an informal settlement for Syrian refugees in the small town of Ketermaya, 1-hour South of Beirut. My family and I delivered school supplies to the children who have been calling this camp “home” for the last 6 years. We also ran arts & crafts and fun literacy-based games and activities putting big smiles on the beautiful faces of those children who fight hard everyday for their right to play and learn. My visit was supported by the students of Broadlands Public School in Toronto and their families.
Back in June, the Global Citizens Club at Broadlands School (students in grade 6) ran a fundraising which consisted in the collection of school supplies. The goal was to fill up 2 of my suitcases with items that will help the refugee children get ready for the upcoming school year. The fundraising was very successful and instead of 2 full suitcases, I ended up with 4 (total 92Kg)!
On the first day, we delivered more than 120 bags filled with writing tools, pencils, crayons, markers, colouring books, game books, ABC books, early reading and math books, picture books, sharpeners, erasers, notebooks, calculators, geometry sets, stickers, and more. To make the bags more useful we sorted the items inside them according to three age groups: 4 to 6, 7 to 9, and over 10.
On the second day, we ran many arts & crafts activities, literacy-based games (in Arabic), and mural painting. I have to say that despite the heat and a few other obstacles I faced, my kids and I managed to run the activities smoothly and engage as many children as we could under the shade of 2 big trees and a small tent. We even managed to engage a couple of children who had special needs. The children were very excited, some of them were holding a paint brush or playing with playdough for the first time. They listened and followed the instructions very well. They took turns and produced creative art work. They proudly showed what they created to each other. The Arabic alphabet bingo game and the Character Trades Tree decoration were a big hit!
During the activities, I noticed that some of the boys I know from previous visits were not there. I was told that they stopped going to school since last Fall and have chosen to work and make money instead. Those boys are 13 to 15 years old. The other girl I missed is Nijmeh. Nijmeh used to be my big helper every year I came to visit. I saw her as I was tidying up at the end of the second day. Her first question to me was: “are you coming to my wedding?”. This left me speechless but not surprised. Nijmeh got engaged recently. She is 14 years old.
I left Ketermaya wondering how many more of those boys will drop school to enter the work force and make quick money and how many more girls will be married before they reach adulthood. Refugee children are children first and must not be forgotten.
Mme Yammout's Twitter Posts on her visit: https://twitter.com/BayanYammout/status/1027960159966879749 https://twitter.com/BayanYammout/status/1027958371259899905 https://twitter.com/BayanYammout/status/1027962648929873920 https://twitter.com/BayanYammout/status/1027957039924801536